Enigma Billing

He didn’t often bill himself. His name
evaporated off paper like smoke
through a Vatican chimney. But today
something slipped through his door with the word “pay”
stamped in red letters like a nun’s bad grade.
He didn’t open bills himself. His name
escaped debts through a tunnel of keystrokes.

His own hard, cold scribble had sneaked back home
with numbers calling for an answer now.
The books dropped open off his shelves. No change
rang down on his sad carpet or arranged
itself for commerce. So, nothing remained
but this hard scrabble, sneaky cold home—
hollow, littered with apologies owed.

He tried small words until the red phone rang
just once. He felt each breeze through cracked blind slats
and shivered—once—from memory. No stamps
lurked near. An envelope propping his lamp
might do. It was torn, ancient, its glue damp—
he’d try, but words failed when the red phone rang
again. Before long he’s consult his maps

then bury his name and lace up old shoes,
wipe out fingerprints and exit stage left.
The glassine windows won’t follow. His hands
will write new names on old forms, let them land
where they will. He’ll evade the cool demands
of his buried name. Those old, unlaced shoes
drop no prints. You can’t be tracked down a cliff.

Imperative Song

“I am on the outskirts of some non-existent town, the long-winded prologue to an unwritten book.” — Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet, Entry 28

You must not go there.
The water is so cold.
It’s hard—a tarnished mirror.
Your lost eyes will follow you.
Now you’re old,
sad. Each shade of blue
sticks to your coat like cat hair
on a hot day. Don’t go there.

You must not stay here.
Leave before he comes
out of a silver nowhere.
You only know lies—untrue
as a nun
escaping the new
red rising moon. She’s near
enough to teach. Don’t stay here.

You may not leave now.
You’ve lost. This is home—
Cold, binding as a secret vow
that pawns your soul. There are few
doors. Unknown
daggers fall like dew.
You can’t hide—you don’t know how.
You have no chance. But leave. Now.

Climate Change

Once snow fell, dusting her apartment house.
It didn’t last. She stood outside clutching quilt
against the cold. The melt held her, aroused—

Just tingling, like she’d been brushed by a mouse
in dreams. Her shivering flesh seemed to tilt
once the snow fell. At her dusty, lost house,

in a different state, winter dropped hard. Somehow
that kept her cold, alone. This one, though, built
against heat, not cold, melted her. Aroused

her soul. The city was clean just for now,
for once. Her slippers were soaking. She felt
the snow. Her undusted apartment housed

her silly shrines, the small lares she’d bow
towards each morning to balance childhood guilts
against a cold world. She’d held this aroused

and trembling soul silent, awed in this now
until California returned to its lilt—
without snow dusting her apartment. House
doors opened. She’d melt back to sleep. Aroused.